KANCIL AND THE CROCODILES

Norcha Yussof Day  Illustrated by Britta Teckentrup

A Malaysian traditional tale told by a Malay. A mouse deer outwits a river full of crocodiles to lead himself and his tortoise friend to a tree full of juicy rambutans.

Firstly, I love a traditional tale, they usually rub in how tainted human nature is by letting animals act out our flaws. In this case, greed. They also often have an underdog outwitting a dangerous figure, in this case the deer mouse against the crocodile.

Secondly I love a couple of new objects in stories instead of the same old sad apples and oranges we all know. So we have a mouse deer and rambutans. How often do you encounter those if you are not Malaysian? Okay, so the rambutans are regularly at my local fruit shop but I do get them mixed up with lychees and there seems a lot of skin there for only a little fruit. But I can point them out to my kid when we are there and reference the story to incite his very unaccepting fruit pallet.

Teckentrup, a German, makes collage-like illustrations, vaguely reminiscent of Carle but certainly with that general European feel which is often less cutesy-pie than the standard soft or cartoony kid illustrations. These, and the text are a winner and a stand-out for the shelf.